When life hands out lemons, some people turn them into lemonade. But what happens when it throws 300 pounds of coffee beans in your direction? You percolate new ideas that can disrupt an overcaffeinated market and strengthen a community, Timothy Shockley chuckled.
“A friend of mine closed his [Shawnee] coffee shop and left [the beans] to me. I didn’t know what to do with them,” he said of his initial panic.
In the middle of a morning workout –– drenched in sweat and racking his brain instead of the weights –– Shockley had an adrenaline-induced epiphany as he stood in the midst of a chaotic gym, he recalled.
“I’m a strength coach. So, I was trying to find something that would be beneficial to my clients so they didn’t have to order something from Starbucks that was 500 to 600 calories,” he said of the idea behind Dream Muscle Coffee –– a chilled coffee drink, blended with collagen protein, “grass-fed butter,” and a variety of flavor options, that packs 15 grams of protein into a 190 calorie serving.
Fast forward several years and Shockley’s original idea has evolved into a brick-and-mortar space with Dream Cafe –– located in the former Urban Cafe at 41st and Troost Avenue –– where the entrepreneur grinds coffee into a brew that’s not only good for the body, but for the souls of east side Kansas Citians.
Like coffee, community comes in a variety of roasts, Shockley said. Dream Cafe was planted along Troost to grow into a gathering place, supportive of collaborative ideas –– a vision for healthier people who will build and elevate a healthier community.
“I didn’t put this here to get the attention from redevelopment or of the Troost [racial] dividing line. We put this here because we wanted to reach people wanting to be relevant in a community that knows very little about coffee,” Shockley explained as he acknowledged the way coffee shops have become a stereotype in community-wide fears of gentrified redevelopment.
“I think this community is used to eating and not drinking. We’re introducing people to a new lifestyle,” Shockley said of the community he hopes his quaint coffee shop can build along an otherwise divided Troost Avenue.
While Dream Cafe finds its identity in the small business space, Shockley plans to develop an innovative menu of reimagined, home-cooked meals. A further commitment to health, he said.
“I’m not trying to make people vegans or plant-based eaters,” he said. “I’m not trying to convert people, but I’ll always show people how to maintain a healthy lifestyle with the things they’re already doing.”
Promoting education will foster new ideas among east side residents –– from a standpoint of both personal and community health, Shockley said. It’s a process that can, in turn, produce a stronger community through a single cup of liquid gold.